Are your waistline, your health, your food, and your fitness on your mind much of the time? Do you find yourself second-guessing food choices, and what is the best exercise to meet your body comp goals? Does it weigh (no pun!) on you that they aren’t right and that they are “not working?” I hear day-in and day-out how people want to cut calories to see a difference. This is my biggest challenge as a fitness and wellness coach. My goal is to help you find ways to replace these dinosaur beliefs with new – and better – ways to approach your wellness, your health, and, yes, your waistline.
It can be such a struggle to factor OUT counting calories and increasing cardio when you want to reach new wellness goals. Yet, I have a perspective that may surprise you and may even (I hope) get you to consider a different way of approaching your wellness, so it lasts for the rest of your life – not just for the next “big event” or to fit the clothes in your closet.
We are surrounded by messages to CUT food and ADD cardio. Every app, new diet, cleanse, and exercise program is marketed to tell us just that – what we THINK we already know. That’s how they are crushing the online fitness industry. They are telling you what you THINK you want to hear. CUT, shrink, and deprive are the name of the game.
I call the cutting calories methodology the deprivation or scarcity model. If we cut things, then all will be well in our world. Look at the number of diet programs in the marketplace and the mere size of the diet and cleanse market. They are all intended to help us SUBTRACT.
Eventually, in this scenario, the brain takes on this scarcity mentality, and our cortisol (stress hormone) increases because we feel “deprived” of what we really want. Sadly, despite our greatest efforts and decades of record sales in the diet industry, it doesn’t lead us to the physique which we aim to achieve. Just look at the obesity numbers in our country.
Perhaps the scarcity model isn’t working?
Below is a belief I’ve experienced myself and on which I coach my clients daily. Instead, many are “doing the deep work” by challenging the old norms and concepts of deprivation and scarcity and finding peace with their personalized approach to their wellness – – – without the negativity associated with their wellness.
- If we cut carbs, sugar, gluten, etc., then within days, we’ll feel different. Over time there might even be a different readout on the scale. We may even have more energy. Yet the rule of deprivation most often leads to OVERINDULGENCE later. Thus begins the spiral of deprivation.
It even happened to me in my very own home recently. Hint: 52-year-old male in my own home – “cutting carbs” and fasting 😳- to lose belly fat. WHAT?! It simply shows how we are surrounded by the message (or have been raised with this notion) that by CUTTING our food – specifically carbohydrates – and ADDING high intensity and more cardio, we will lose that (fill in the blank that drives us nuts) and love ourselves a little more.
I have a short list of top nutrition experts and resources to whom I turn for the latest research on human behavior regarding food. Yes, they would also agree we need to bring in less “energy” or calories than we expend to lose weight. They also agree our food choices have more to do with our mental state than anything else. Our hormones, sleep, stress levels, blood sugar, health history, medications, etc., should all be taken into consideration – daily – to weigh (no pun) our food choices.
To gain holistic wellness, we need to start by focusing on our mindset, stress resilience practices, sleep, and approach to Menopause and aging. These practices will LEAD us to the right food choices – and improve our overall relationship with food. For example, with ample and quality sleep, our bodies have the capacity to challenge our bodies in a great workout. With sleep, we have fewer cravings, more energy, fewer negative feelings, and self-talk, making exercise more like a method to “fuel” our bodies and NOT solely a way to keep our waistlines small.
When we stress out about our food, the impact from the stress, and not the actual cookie, is worse on your waistline. The chain reaction going on inside our bodies with the food fret leads to weight gain, too. This is how guilt, worry, and shame can wreak havoc on our body composition.
The deprivation model continues the roller coaster ride of cutting out foods (or types of foods) followed by over-indulgence. When we place our minds in a “victim” role (in this case from depriving), we tell ourselves we eventually need something to “fill that void.” I often hear “I deserve it” because of a hard day or “I’ve been so good for several days/weeks.” This often leads to overindulgence, which can then lead to guilt, and the frustrating cycle continues.
- When you find yourself doubting your food choices, pause and think about your sleep, stress level, physical movement, and overall mindset. Is one of the four out of whack?
- Instead of counting calories, perhaps you can count protein grams. We all know most of us do not consume enough protein. Yet, pretty much everything from muscles and bones to microscopic cellular machines, hormones, and neurotransmitters are derived from protein. It is the building block and the most abundant macronutrient in our body. This one shift of behavior can move us from a SUBTRACTION to an ADDITION model – making the mindset growth-oriented and well on your way to a holistic approach to wellness.
- When was the last time you practiced self-care? Is this compatible with fuel-based food choices you’ve made? Or have you spent most of your time caring for others, leaving your “tank” of care empty?
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